The Real Reason Jay-Z Turned Down The Super Bowl

The Super Bowl represents the pinnacle of athleticism and showmanship, an extravaganza of violent poetry written in sweat and pain over the course of four quarters. Such a special night deserves an equally special soundtrack supplied by the biggest names in music. 

Whitney Houston's show-stopping performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" seemed to stop time in its tracks. Who can forget Beyonce's rendition of the national anthem, which Billboard ranked among the greatest of all time, or the Queen B's buzz-worthy halftime show appearances in 2013 and 2016? Considering how unforgettable Bey was, doesn't it just boggle the mind that her hubby, Jay-Z, looked at that grand opportunity and said, "Forget it?"

Let's take a closer look at the real reason Jay-Z turned down the Super Bowl in lieu of an even more powerful role with the league.

Jay-Z's got 99 problems but a Super Bowl ain't one

According to The New York Times, Jay-Z was on the NFL's shortlist for the Super Bowl halftime show for years. On paper, it reads like a match made in entertainment heaven: The Rockefeller of rap would have rocked the arena like no one else can, but he reportedly turned down the gig. In his mind, the request apparently seemed more bush league than worthy of the National Football League. Here's why:

The NFL reportedly asked Jay-Z to enlist Kanye West and Rihanna for a performance of "Run this Town," but Jay-Z thought it was a bad way to run a halftime show. "That is not how you go about it, telling someone that they're going to do the halftime show contingent on who they bring," he said. "I said forget it. It was a principle thing." And just like that, the NFL accidentally ran Jay-Z out of town.

Jay-Z knows the NFL is a hard-knock league

Where one door closes another door opens. In this case, the NFL knocked on that door after Jay-Z knocked the league over its hip hop ignorance. According to The New York Times, the 2019 Super Bowl took place in the hip-hop mecca of Atlanta, so who did the league pick to headline the halftime show? It went with Maroon 5, which is about as hip-hop as a limp rabbit. That egregious fumble prompted New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who chairs the NFL's media committee, to reach out to Jay-Z, and together, the heavy hitters brokered a relationship between the NFL and Jay-Z's company Roc Nation. 

That arrangement reportedly helped bring Roc Nation artist Shakira into the fold. She shared the spotlight with Jenifer Lopez during the Super Bowl LIV halftime show. Roc Nation has not said how much money it stands to make from the deal," reported The New York Times, but Jay-Z has taken some heat for joining forces with the league — a decision the rapper defends. "We didn't say, 'Let's go make some money off the N.F.L.,'" he said. Additionally, Jay-Z will use this platform to promote social justice and criminal justice reform through the NFL's "Inspire Change" initiative. With any luck, Jay-Z and the NFL will make sweet music together.